‘Indian Summer’ a nostalgia trip for former campers

When I first saw the 1993 film Indian Summer, I was still a regular camper at a summer camp so my perspective on the film about a group of former campers who spend one last summer at Camp Tamakwa (the real name of the camp where the movie was filmed) was a little different than my mom, who rented the movie and insisted I watch it with her. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t quite as nostalgic and teary-eyed as my mom, a long-time camper in South Dakota growing up.

Re-watching the movie just recently more than 15 years later, I was the teary-eyed nostalgic one, as you might expect considering I run a blog called Summer Camp Culture. While I’d like to think my style is a little less early ’90s than the 20somethings returning to camp in this film, I’m not all that different than them reliving and reminiscing about my days as a camper every time I step onto the grounds of a camp.

The film stars Alan Arkin as an aging camp director who feels he’s losing touch with the early ’90s generation of campers – crazy kids with their Walkmans – and decides he’s going to close the camp. But before he does, he invites back some of the campers from the ’70s – the golden age of the camp – with whom he wants to spend his last week as a camp director. The concept is a little suspect – of all the campers he could invite why this certain number of campers from this certain year? – but once you get beyond that, the film is a fun trip down memory lane that despite being somewhat dated 18 years later captures the essence of what summer camp is all about. Not to mention what having a blog like this is really all about.

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Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.


  1. Great movie- I love watching movies about summer camp. I grew up summer camping in the south in the late 70s thru the late 80s, but always thought that summer camps in the Midwest were more “summer camp” than the ones I attended. I really enjoy the website. Chris

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